Issue 2/2021 - Dinge, die uns trennen


Image Gallery

Aleksei Taruts und Serhiy Klymko

Splish splash. Sip. Dip. Hold your breath and plunge into the bath of the Pontos Axinos1 (griech.), das unwirtliche Meer. Veralteter Name für das Schwarze Meer., the Black Sea. Its undertow leads inland and further, delving into Earth’s crust, drilling through the geological formations. How would this invisible flow shift the European currents?
The hose segments wind through the exhibition space, crossing the border between one room and another and serving as a reservoir for a cursed geopolitical liquid: sea water collected from the Strait of Kerch that washes against the Crimean peninsula and is then trafficked via Ukraine and Poland to the Badischer Kunstverein in Germany. The resource is renewable as long as the Strait of Kerch flows into the Rhine River and the piece is part of the exhibition complex and hydrologic cycle. Historical events are ecological objects that appear within the framework of global industrialization processes—straits turned into military interfaces, rivers into autobahns, sea beds into transcontinental streaming platforms. Fossils are dead. Phantoms are gas. Have phantoms ever been more decorative?
Unlike a generic express delivery item that has an added phantasmal value that forces it to exist and to be “suggested” online, Undertow is aware that it feeds upon geopolitical nightmares. The European borders happened to be washed out by a flux, creating a leak in a thalassocratic pax. Would an inflated dragon scare the ephemeral forces of the past charged with an ever-growing blast of technological might?
Russian military training in the region fills the news with reports on diversionist groups captured by the federal security service. The gnawing feeling of putting this piece together on display comes from an understanding of the possibility of getting cancelled for actually having visited Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, to arrange the smuggling for the sake of an art production in the EU. After the show, the sea water will be poured into one of the major European rivers, the Rhine, creating an international enclave of minerals and glimpses of political uncertainty. Has water ever been a neutral substance?
The project was conceived and realized by Aleksei Taruts (Russia) and Serge Klymko (Ukraine) for the “Things We Sense About Each Other” exhibition at the Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe.



1 Pontos axenos (greek), the inhospitable sea. Obsolete name for the Black Sea.